Members of the El Paso City Council have decided to tackle at a later unannounced date the question of establishing a historic district in the city.
That designation would allow the owners of historic buildings within a defined boundary to apply for tax credits and federal funding when upgrading those properties.
The district designation, as certified by the Texas Historical Commission, has been seen as an important first step in the process of preserving nearly 300 historic downtown El Paso buildings, many of which have been hailed for their Art Deco design work.
But a group of property owners have announced opposition to the designation, arguing that the district would impose invasive building standards and negatively impact the price of rehabilitation projects.
In a council discussion on the matter, City Attorney Karla Nieman raised the possibility that property owners would cede control of any upgrade project to a “state agency in Austin.”
Promoted by the County of El Paso, the district idea is at odds with a city ordinance regulating properties in that same defined area.
For the district movement to continue, the El Paso City Council has been tasked with changing or doing away with the ordinance altogether.
But now, on a 5 to 3 vote, council members have decided to put off the ordinance question, noting that any change would require a defined process that would include public input.
It is not yet known when the council will take the matter up again.
By Garry Boulard
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